Culture Trumps Strategy: Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN

Earlier this year, Mindy Grossman (@MindyGrossman) gave an excellent interview as part of the View from the Top Speaker Series at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (@StanfordBiz).

I’ve captured some of the highlights from this direct, no-nonsense 48 minute talk entitled Culture Trumps Strategy … but you can watch it for yourself here.

  • In order to build a long term sustainable and successful company, you need an incredibly engaged culture.
  • Nobody was telling our story.
  • When you have 8 CEOs in 10 years, the culture freezes. No strategy is implemented. People were feeling downtrodden, asking what were their opportunities for success?
  • I knew the first story I had to tell was “Why was I there? Why was I passionate about the future of this company?”, and I had to make it personal.
  • Igniting the culture and being believable, and then setting a vision, is what changed the entire business dynamic.
  • When your employee is asked by a neighbour, “Who do you work for?”, you want your employee to be your greatest evangelist.
  • I believe that you have to get rid of toxicity in any company. I don’t care how smart or how talented the person is, or how long the person has been there.
  • You have to set bold goals, but then you have to give your people a path to get there. You can’t just put them out there with out the strategy.
  • You (want to) inspire people to have a mission.
  • We want to be a company of firsts.
  • If you don’t disrupt yourself, you will be disrupted by somebody else.
  • What is she feeling? (referring to the customer)
  • We’re just going to make her feel great, if she wants to buy a mascara … and we’re really going to respect her, if she can’t buy anything.
  • Trust and respect.
  • Create an experience for our customer.
  • You will be a lot more successful, and the company will be a lot more successful, and you will be a lot less frustrated, if you stop trying to make ordinary people extraordinary … and surround yourself with extraordinary people.
  • Ask the “soul” questions. I want to hear the “Why”.
  • Who are you and what are your values …and are they aligned with the values of our company?
  • What’s our culture?
  • Don’t look only at what’s in front of you today … instead, focus on conceptualizing a new vision and leap into it.
  • What do I want to be a part of? What do I see as growing?
  • Never be in a position to feel trapped.
  • Know yourself.